In the most recent campaign we’re playing semi-monthly (scheduling has been an issue), we’re working our way through Paizo’s Second Darkness Adventure Path with our GM Mike. We decided to go with a module vs. a homebrew adventure because of the time sink homebrew worlds/adventures happen to be. The trick is that with a module, there’s still some personalization that has to go on or you end up with a cookie cutter campaign that doesn’t work in all circumstances.
For example, take my druid – Etsy Grobb Postlewaite, or just “Eg(g)” for short. Egg is a little dude who wanders around with a rather large dog at his side all the time by the name of Nyet. Nyet happens to be large enough for a gnome to ride into battle, which aids his speed (short legs don’t go fast) quite a bit. Egg loves exploring caves and being underground – there’s just something about being small and hanging out with burrowing animals that seems to go go hand in hand.
So how the heck did he end up helping to run a casino with his elven wizard friend Elhand and a bunch of NPCs? He’s like the proverbial fish out of water (especially since until his recent advancement to level 4 he was unable to swim!)…
In all my years playing Dungeons & Dragons I have never played a Druid. And though I’ve played numerous gnomish NPCs over the years, I have never played a gnomish PC. So this was a bit of a change for me. That said, his Neutral Good alignment has presented me with a bit of a challenge…
Have you ever had to play the party conscience? Egg’s good friend Elhand is a bit of a mess when it comes to social situations and always keeps his interests front and center, which works well considering his low Charisma and his Chaotic Neutral alignment. Though Andrew plays him a bit like a used car salesman, I think it works as far as the character’s stats go. That said, he makes some… questionable decisions from time to time if you ask Egg.
Most of the NPCs and Elhand want to kill anything that stands in their way, while Egg feels the need to try and protect those beasts only doing what they can to protect themselves. Now, if an animal attacks and wounds a member of his party, Egg concedes that the critter should be dealt with quickly and humanely. But if an animal has attacked and missed or not attacked at all, why should the party do harm to the critter?
This attitude puts Egg squarely at odds with the “protect the party” mindset and has really made me wonder about animal rights activists in our own world. Are they in the right to cause bodily harm or harm property or possessions to prove their point? I don’t honestly know. But it’s firmed up my own position as far as cruel behavior to animals goes.
Part of the Hippocratic Oath states that doctors should “do no harm.” I would amend that for my druid character to say “do no harm unless absolutely necessary.”
Does that help Egg become something other than the party conscience? Heck no. But it seriously makes it easier to play him as a character.
Now let’s add a small wrinkle.
The man the party was working for at the casino turned on them and tried to have them killed. In fact, he eventually killed the thief NPC who’d been an integral part of the group since the first session. Why did this individual turn against them? Greed.
Where does greed fit into the natural balance of the world? It doesn’t. Animals by nature are not greedy unless you count certain apes or chimpanzees who may mimic human behavior. So how do you integrate the concept of greed into the philosophy of “do no harm unless absolutely necessary”? That’s what Egg is dealing with now. Human behavior.
And though I feel that Egg the gnomish druid has no real chance of becoming comfortable running a casino or in the world of greedy or corrupt people, it’s going to be interesting to see if his Neutral Good alignment slowly shifts to True Neutral to better reflect a karmic balance in the world, or even to go so far as Neutral Evil to reflect the fact that people simply don’t rate as high in his books as animals and nature…
Has anyone else toyed with the idea of a druid in society? How did it work out? Leave comments below!
Thanks for reading this ramble…